Was Jesus denying his Deity in Mark 10:18?

“Jesus never said I am God, in fact if you look at Mark 10:18, He is clearly denying that He is God.”

I have seen Muslims (as well as skeptics) use this statement quite often in order to prove that Jesus is not God. But is that really the case?

If Jesus is not God then Christianity is a false religion and we have been deceived. People are using our own scriptures to prove, that our religion is fake and it is full of contradictions. We might find ourselves in an awkward spot when presented with such an objection. The reason is that, if we have not studied such issues, we cannot come up with an explanation on the spot and we might miss out an opportunity in making a good case for Christianity and sharing the good news. That is why it is so important to be well prepared as commanded in 1 Peter 3:15. Of course the objector isn’t going to abandon his beliefs right away, but at least we should be able to change their thinking about Christianity.

Coming back to our topic at hand, let us read verses 17 and 18 from Mark chapter 10,

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”. (ESV)

Focus carefully on Jesus’s words. Jesus is trying to make the rich man think over his understanding of ‘goodness’ as well as his understanding of Jesus. Verse 19 gives us an indication that the rich man was a Pharisee, who is living by the law, because Jesus tells him that “he knows the commandments”. The way he addresses Jesus, as just a ‘good teacher’ (trying to deny his Deity) also indicates that he is a Pharisee. Jesus took this opportunity to point out that only God is good. By doing so, was He denying that He is good? Was He denying that He is God? Well to the contrary, He was in fact making a case for himself, that He is God. How? Let’s put the issue at hand in the form of an Aristotelian syllogism.

(Please note here good is used in terms of morality, for someone who has absolutely no evil in himself. The reason to put this here is to make it clear that we are not talking about ‘goodness’ which humans refer to their acts. Yes some people are good but they are not sinless. Their good works can no way outweigh their sinful works.)

1. If a being is absolutely good, then he is God.

  1. Jesus is absolutely good.
  2. Therefore He is God.

You see what Jesus did there? He implicitly declared his deity! Jesus was simply pointing out to the rich man that if he calls Jesus ‘Good’ then he is indirectly referring Him as God because only God is good! The verse that people use against us can in fact be used as a weapon in our arsenal. This is also the perfect example of Jesus using apologetics in his conversations. People against apologetics might need a place to hide now! It is fascinating to see Jesus’ tactics of asking an apt question and then making a point for those who can actually understand what He was trying to say. How amazing to learn this from the greatest philosopher who ever walked on the planet earth!

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